Lake Ontario

Ontario, which lies on the eastern end of the region, has the smallest surface area of the five Great Lakes. It is 193 miles long and 53 miles wide. Its average depth is 283 feet.  

Ways to Connect

Paul Pasquarello, N.Y. Power Authority

It's an annual tradition in the Great Lakes: setting up an ice boom across the eastern end of Lake Erie. 

The boom -- a series of pontoons that stretches nearly two miles -- is designed to cut down on ice jams that could damage properties and the hydroelectric power plant intakes along the Niagara River.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

The Great Lakes/St. Lawrence River make up the world's biggest freshwater system -- and an enormously valuable resource. It supplies drinking water for millions of residents and powers the region's economy.

Last year, 42 million gallons were withdrawn from the basin each day, according to a new report from the Great Lakes Commission. Here's where it went.

Eileen Buckley, WBFO

Buffalo has transformed a failing school into Riverside Academy, a high school that prepares students for jobs in aquaculture, tourism and other sectors of the "Blue Economy."

The location is perfect: Riverside is within walking distance of the Niagara River, which flows from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario.

And as WBFO reports, the school is partnering with SUNY Buffalo State, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper and Buffalo Maritime Center. 

Maid of the Mist via Twitter

The problem of sewer overflows affects the entire Great Lakes region. More than 182 municipalities have systems that can release untreated sewage during big storms, the Environmental Protection Agency says.

Amy Nichole Harris/Shutterstock

Note: Updated on Dec. 6, based on lake surface temperatures in November, which significantly lowered predictions for the ice cover. --

Over the past two winters, the Great Lakes have had a below-average ice cover. And that’s expected to continue this year.  


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